A welcoming committee of one

Photo by Eric Harrold/Fall River County Herald-Star

Gay Darrow is pictured here with a recent edition of the Fall River County Herald-Star newspaper which is one of the items she presents to new residents when she knocks on their door to welcome them to town

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For 25 years, Gay Darrow has been the face of ‘Welcome to Edgemont’

By Eric Harrold

Staff Writer

EDGEMONT – If you’re new to town, chances are one of the first faces to knock on your door would be that of Gay Darrow, who has enthusiastically welcomed the city’s new residents for more than two decades.

It all began back when Darrow was working as the director of the only preschool daycare in town, which was called Edgemont Children’s Center, a licensed facility. The Chamber of Commerce at that time insisted that Darrow join the Chamber, something that she felt would create more of a demand of her presence at meetings than she had time to give. Someone on the Chamber suggested that as an alternative to being required present for meetings that Darrow volunteer to meet folks who had just moved to town and welcome them to the community.

Surprisingly, given her pride for Edgemont, Darrow is actually not originally from Edgemont. She is a native of Parker, Ariz., and first came to the area to visit friends she knew through the rodeo. She met her husband George at Spencer Hall near Mule Creek Junction during her freshman summer of high school. They went on three dates before she returned to Arizona for her sophomore year. For the next four years, they were pen-pals before being reunited for the long haul. As of July 15, they were married 55 years.

Darrow first began an era so many years ago that continues today by developing a packet that included something from each business, a copy of the weekly newspaper, church listings, and information on the history of Edgemont. She immediately enjoyed meeting those new to town, most of who appeared to be ‘normal’ cordial people. She says a man once offered her a beer. Darrow, who doesn’t drink, politely declined. Then there was an instance of someone in Dudley coming to the door without a stitch of clothes on, to which Darrow responded by quickly handing off her packet and going on her merry way. If someone has a menacing dog to confront, she hands off that household to her husband George, a tendency she says comes from getting bitten when she was a kid. She has shared her experience with her grandchildren, Keaton and Kolton Darrow, who seemed to similarly enjoy welcoming newcomers. Darrow is sometimes approached in Yesway by people she has greeted in the past who recall her as “the lady on the four-wheeler.”

Almost everyone can agree that the past two years since Covid began have changed the way people interact with one another. Darrow says that some folks who have moved in from more populated areas in other states don’t always invite the welcome she has to offer. They can be a little apprehensive, she says. Some crack their door and quickly inquire as to the purpose of her visit. Darrow takes it in stride though, as she realizes that times and people change. Most receive her welcome with appreciation and reciprocate warm feelings, she says. As one might expect, many have logistical questions and want to know where they can find particular stores or what there is to do around the area.

To this day, after Darrow gets wind of newcomers just moving to town and getting settled in, she heads off in their direction with the same energy she had when it all began. Darrow, who volunteered with Edgemont Ambulance Service for 32 years, says she still has high enthusiasm for serving the community in the capacity of greeting the new arrivals. After her career of more than 30 years with the daycare and her volunteerism with the ambulance service, she says welcoming new folks to Edgemont is the only hat she wears now, and its her way of giving back to the community that means so very much to her.

“I don’t want to live any place else, ever,” says Darrow.  

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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